Julian Fellowes has written an American version of Downton Abbey for HBO, so we’re recapping this first season of The Gilded Age! Starting in 1882, the story promises to be a juicy soap opera of new money vs. old with lots of bustle gowns. Check here on Tuesdays for our recap of the previous week’s episode.
By this point in The Gilded Age (2022-), all the characters are wearing lots of repeated costumes, so I’m ignoring those unless I can get better screencaps or I’ve found historical references for them, FYI. For example, the episode starts with George revealing his big station project, and the Russell fam is present, all in repeated costumes. Larry wants to study architecture instead of the family biz. They’re also talking about electricity, whoo-hoo.
Agnes believes her son is having an affair with the Russell’s lady maid. Ada thinks it’s NBD, just a fling. Little do they both know he doesn’t play that way at all.
It’s hard to say Agnes is wearing old-fashioned styles when this show is all over the map. This bustle shape could be 1875 or 1885, because between those two parts of the era, the skirts were much slimmer.
Larry and Marian have another meet-cute. I like how she’s wearing green more often — is this symbolizing “growth”? That feels a bit obvious. However, she’s in a too fashion-forward style, leaning 1890s here.
That black waist reminds me of:
Carrie Astor comes over to scope out where to practice for dancing. It’s the return of the skin disease / ball fringe dress in all its hideous glory! And Gladys has yet another lavender gown — I think she wore this one at that charity bazaar, so both girls are wearing repeated outfits from episode 2.
That nasty dress on Carrie is a historical repro. Because people in the past made fugly shit just as often as modern folks! Although this TV show reversed the colors, perhaps to make the ball fringe look less disease-y? Whelp, that didn’t work.
Bertha shows up and suggests Gladys will actually get a debutante ball. I bet that will be the final episode’s set piece. She’s wearing a new gown, and finally something that looks daytime-appropriate. Or is it?
Agnes has confronted her son about his supposed affair, and she tells Marian to get the maid fired with Mrs. Russell.
Over at the Russell house, George came in late for dinner because the lawyers are debating if he’s innocent in last episode’s train wreck.
Peggy has more articles for the newspaper (but not a new costume, so no screencap), and she gets an assignment to write about electricity — including the Black man, Lewis Latimer, who invented the more durable light bulb filament later used by Thomas Edison.
On her own assignment from her aunt, Marian awkwardly meets with Mrs. Russell.
She has a less awkward but more boring convo with Mr. Raikes, who’s still stalking her.
Oscar and Marian have a chat as well. I don’t know how / when / why she’s changed clothes though — the other action is all happening on the same day, plus she’s fussing with her gloves and purse like she’s either coming in or going out. Why would she change from one daytime outfit (the red satin) to another very similar daytime outfit (this burgundy satin), both for going out? I suspect a continuity lapse on the part of the showrunners.
Bertha overhears her maid getting chatty with Larry Russell, decides the rumor is true, and dismisses her. Agnes learns of this via letter, and asks Peggy to respond cooly.
Reminiscent of this photo — similar style of gown and the use of plaid, especially the trim along the front sides, is very similar.
Marian and Mr. Raikes meet at Mrs. Chamberlain’s house. The two of them have so little chemistry that their being passionately in love seems silly and pointless.
Marian’s green dotted dress is, again, 1890s and the same style as this photo:
The fired maid complains to Oscar, and she’s wearing a nice 1880s natural form dress so I’ll include a picture.
Agnes is getting fitted for a new gown, and the dressmaker says, “bustles are getting smaller for most people.” Agnes says, “I’m not most people.” Need I remind everyone that this is supposedly 1882 and bustles should have been small for several years already? And most people in this show are not wearing the smaller natural-form style with any regularity, for that matter.
I think Agnes’ bustle is this long coil type. Even if it’s not this structure, the size isn’t huge.
The aunts, well, Agnes, grill Marian about Mr. Raikes.
Peggy is going out to see the electrical thing and has a spiffy new dress in pink and brown.
The Russells are going out to the electrical thing.
Ada thinks electricity is neat, Agnes is unimpressed, Marian is pouting about not getting to see it.
But it’s a version of this dress worn by First Lady Frances Cleveland.
Light ‘er up! It’s a party in the streets and carriages. The randomly invited Miss Bingham gets her flirt on with Mr. Raikes — looks like Aurora Fane brought her on purpose to distract the guy from Marian (maybe at Aunt Agnes’ instruction?).
What did you love and hate about this episode’s costumes?